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How Do You Get A Song On The Radio?

Updated on December 4, 2013
MagicMan007 profile image

Bill Watson has authored 3 books and many articles online and for print publications such as Sports Afield, Income Opportunties and more.

Are You Looking for an Answer to the Question, "How Do I Get My Song On The Radio?" Here's How!

So you're listening to tunes in your car and hearing songs you know aren't near as good as yours, and you wonder, "How do I get MY songs on the radio?"

Here are the SECRETS you need!

The songs on the radio sound polished and professional, but you aren't a professional musician, you're a semi-pro weekend band musician with a little home quality recording setup. or maybe you're an amateur, just playing a little guitar and writing songs at home.

So right now your song probably doesn't sound quite as good as those; maybe it even sounds pretty bad or maybe it hasn't even been recorded yet!

How do you get your song from where is now to where you want it to be: blasting out of the car speakers of everyone in the world?

You probably realize you need someone or something that can help you get your song on the radio; you need a bridge so to speak. And here's your missing link!

Just click on the words "Play It Again Demos" beside the big arrow below and you'll discover the key that will open a world of songwriting opportunities to you:

You Need A Professional Demo Service!

No, you're not looking for THE missing link like Piltdown Man or something, just that link that gets you from point A to point B, somewgere in between your rough version to radio ready.

And that link is a professional demo service.

But why a demo service, can't you send in the version you made yourself?

To be taken seriously in the music business you need a professional sounding recording with your song performed by a pro singer and pro musicians. Obviously no one but a record company can afford to pay $100,000 or more for a radio grade master recording and even more than that for airplay promotion so you can't give them a radio ready version.

But you can't simply throw together a one man band garage recording with every instrument played by your uncle Jason either. Send that type of recording to a song publisher or record company hoping they'll invest that $100,000 in recording and another $300,000 or so into promoting it and most likely it would simply be laughed at briefly on it's trip to the nearest trash can. Very few A&R people can hear past a rough demo these days. If it doesn't sound like the material they screen regularly from pro songwriters it likely has no chance with them.

The solution? Once again the missing link you need is called a "demo service". Demo is short for "demonstration" and that's what you require at this point: a recording for the purpose of demonstrating your work. A demo service hires professional session musicians and singers. But musicians and singers can only deliver their portion of the work. Just as important, some would say more important, a producer at the service takes your song rough (usually you singing on a CD or MP3 file) and guides it through the process of writing musician's charts; recording rhythm tracks, overdubs and scratch vocals; replacing the scratch vocal with the pro lead vocal and harmony vocals; then mixes all those individual tracks down into a cohesive stereo file. Your producer makes many decisions at each juncture. Your producer is ultimately responsible for how the song demo sounds, how well it turns out.

A demo service delivers a pro sounding demo quality recording for a few hundred dollars that gives you a fighting chance with the big dogs in the music industry. That demo recording is the first step in answering the question of how you get your song on the radio.

Banjo Player at Nashville Trax
Banjo Player at Nashville Trax

Recording Artists Looking For Songs

Song Publishers, Recording Artists and Song Publishers Need Songs!

In fact song publishers, recording artists and music publishers must have songs for their business to function.

For a list of artists, producers music publishers and others looking for songs, click on the picture of the woman playing keyboards. It will take you to a blog about the songwriting business. Once there proceed to the "Song Pitch Opportunity" category.

Record companies looking for songs:

They need songs for their roster of artists. Typically the producer assigned to one of their acts puts out a song call to various songwriter tip sheets and music publishers as they begin to select tunes for the album they're about to produce. Their needs are specific to the artist

Song publishers looking for songs:

Their needs are less specific, usually they simply want good quality songs to build their song catalog.

Music publishers looking for songs.

There isn't near as much money in print music sales as there once was so music publishing has evolved. Today, most music publishers function as song publishers/song agents. They often develop good songwriters they discover and offer them staff songwriting positions.

Recording artists looking for songs:

Artists are busy with career building. They do public appearances; give radio, TV and magazine interviews; they have concerts to play. in general they leave most of the song finding to the music producer but occasionally songwriters find success by pitching a song directly to an artist. An even more likely avenue to the artist is placing a song in the hands of a recording artist's band member.

How To Get Your Song Heard

Radio on the Internet vs. Traditional Radio

The good thing about having a demo is that the industry has changed. Demo quality is much closer to master quality and the musician's unions in the major music cities are changing rates to reflect that, so that in most cases, by paying an upgrade fee, you can sell a demo as a download at i-tunes, CD Baby, in retail stores and other places.

Meanwhile Billboard, the entity that determines which songs are hits, has changed what data is included in determining chart position. Florida Georgia Line's recent hit Cruise went to #1 on the country charts largely because just a few weeks prior to its release downloads began to count and Cruise had nearly 2 million downloads.

So at this point traditional radio is still important to charting but the Internet is becoming the new radio. Once you have a pro demo made if you're happy and believe it will sell, you may want to upgrade it to the new "limited release" category. It will cost you just a few hundred dollars and permit you to sell 10,000 downloads or CDs. At that point you can upgrade further, all the way up to master level.

But besides selling your song yourself, you'll also want to subscribe to the appropriate industry tip sheets that list where to submit MP3s for consideration on upcoming major label artist projects. Although you can submit to some record companies and artists direct, most want you to approach through a song publisher. For a songwriter who isn't also an artist, getting a song signed to a publishing company is usually the first step to getting it in the door of a record company and on to becoming a hit.

So the first step to hearing your song on the radio is almost surely a demo service like Play It Again Demos:

A Quality Room & Drum Kit: Live drums played by a pro are the backbone of a great sounding demo

A Quality Room & Drum Kit: Live drums played by a pro are the backbone of a great sounding demo
A Quality Room & Drum Kit: Live drums played by a pro are the backbone of a great sounding demo

Writing Nashville Number Charts

Diamonds, Split Bars...What's That About?

One of the jobs of a producer is to "write the charts" the musicians read at the recording session and in Nashville they're usually Nashville Number Charts. They were simple to create back when the music coming out of Nashville was rarely much more than three chord country but now, not only is every type of music on the planet being recorded in Music City, country music itself has become more complex and it's more common to work on a rock or pop tune than on traditional three chord country.

Numbers are the root of the Nashville Number System and the cool thing, the reason the charts have endured, is, unlike traditional music notation (a music staff with notes) the numbers permit instant key changes. A vocalist straining to hit the high notes? No problem. No need to stop the session, simply call out a half step key change downward and the musicians immediately see the same chart in the lower key. Symbols (such as a diamond drawn around a number or a check mark) are employed to designate certain things and communicate to the musicians how long to hold out notes, push a chord or whatever.

Due to the high quality of musicianship available and other factors that now favor Music City, U.S.A., much of the hitmaking Los Angeles music scene over the last decade or two has migrated to Nashville and calls it home. The influx of L.A. musicians, producers, engineers and artists has pushed country away from the historic Nashville Sound and injected pop, rock and California southern rock influences into nearly every facet of the songmaking and recording process.

But Nashville Numbers charts are the way it's done so if you move to Nashville you still have to "know the numbers" and given the current level of song complexity it can sometimes be a challenge to write effective charts necessary to have an efficient recording session. Increasingly, "numbers charts" are including some music notation here and there to clarify certain sections.

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